Astro 4A, Section 1, Tu/Th 10:30 - 11:45

Professor: Chris Taylor                                                                                            Office: 438 Sequoia Hall

Phone: 278-6480                                                                  Office Hours: M/W 1:00 - 1:50; Th: 3:00 - 3:50
  E-mail: ctaylor (at)                                                                                            also by appointment 

Class announcements

Jan. 28
First Day of Class! A printable copy of the syllabus is available in PDF format.
Mar. 13 The answer key for Exam 1 is now available.
May 5
The answer key for Exam 2 is now available.


Week of
Material Covered
Jan. 28, 30
Chapter 1 -- Charting the Heavens.  Introduction   Size Scales   
The Scientific Method
Feb. 4, 6
Chapter 1 (continued), Chapter 2 -- The Copernican Revolution. 
The Celestial Sphere       Motions of the Earth
Lunar Phases and Eclipses    Prehistoric Astronomy
Feb. 11, 13
Chapter 2 (continued).
Greek Astronomy   Copernicus, Brahe, Kepler      Galileo
Laws of Motion and Gravity
Feb. 18, 20

Chapter 2 (continued), Chapter 3 -- Radiation.
Escape Velocity and Tides   Basics of Light     
The Electromagnetic Spectrum  Blackbody Radiation    
Feb. 25, 27
Chapter 3 (continued), Chapter 4 -- Spectroscopy. 
Energy   Atomic Structure     Energy Levels  Kirchhoff's Laws  
Mar. 4, 6
Chapter 4 (continued),
Kirchhoff's Laws      The Doppler Effect  
Mar. 11, 13
Chapter 6 -- An Inventory of the Solar System
Solar System Overview
Mar. 18, 20

Chapter 6 (continued).  Chapter 7 -- Earth
Earth's Atmosphere       The Origin of Earth's Atmosphere 
Earth's Interior
Mar. 24 - 31
No Classes -- Spring Break
Apr. 1, 3
Chapter 7 -- Earth (continued)
Differentiation    Earth's Surface     Earth's Magnetic Field
Apr. 8, 10

Chapter 8 -- The Moon and Mercury
Moon and Mercury: Physical Properties   
Terrain on the Moon and Mercury   The Moon's Surface     
Mercury's Surface
Apr. 15, 17
Chapter 8 (continued)
Moon and Mercury: Interiors         The Origin of the Moon
Chapter 9 -- Venus
The Basics of Venus     The Surface of Venus  
The Atmosphere of Venus     The Interior of Venus
Apr. 22, 24

Chapter 10 -- Mars
The Basics of Mars     The Surface of Mars      Water On Mars
The Lander Missions    The Atmosphere of Mars  
The Interior of Mars/Mars' Moons

Apr. 29, May 1
Chapter 11 -- Jupiter
The Basics of Jupiter    Jupiter's Atmosphere  
Jupiter's Interior and Magnetic Field     The Moons of Jupiter
May  6, 9
Chapter 12 -- Saturn
The Basics of Saturn    Saturn's Atmosphere  
Saturn's Interior and Magnetic  Field   Saturn's Rings   
Saturn's Largest Moon
May 13, 15
Chapter 13 -- Uranus and Neptune
Uranus and Neptune Overview      Atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune    
Interiors of Uranus and Neptune       The Moons of Uranus and Neptune
The Rings of Uranus and Neptune
Chapter 14 -- Solar System Debris
The Basics of Asteroids      The Orbits of Asteroids  
The Basics of Comets    The Orbits of Comets  
Pluto and the Kuiper Belt    Planet Formation     Interplanetary Debris
May 22, 10:15 AM
Final Exam

Course Goals:
1) To understand the place of human beings in the Solar System.
        2) To learn how astronomers use knowledge of physics and chemistry to study our Solar System via observation and the
             scientific method.
        3) To learn how scientists use scientific inquiry and the scientfic method in advancing our knowledge of the Solar System.
        3) To learn the history of human knowledge of the Solar System.
        4) To learn the basic principles of modern astronomy: telescopes, the electromagnetic spectrum,  the properties of the planets,
              the theory of planetary origins.

Required Text:

Astronomy Today, Vol. I: The Solar System (8th Edition) by Chaisson and McMillan. (7th Edition OK)

Required Equipment:
          Turning Technologies ResponseCard NXT (the clicker).  The class participation part of your grade will be completed
          using the clicker during class to answer discussion questions.  The clickers are sold in the Hornet Bookstore.  .
       Buy the clicker as soon as possible. Register it on-line through SacCT. 
       We will start using it in class during week 2!

Final course grades will be based upon homework, 3 exams, a cumulative final exam, and class participation during in-class exercises.

Homework  SacCT
Average of Mid Term Exams
Class participation
Final Exam

Homework will be assigned on SacCT by Friday each week, and will be due before class the next Tuesday.  You will always have the weekend to work on the homework assignments.  All homework assignments are done using SacCT!!

Exams will be mulitple choice, and you will need to bring a General Purpose Pearson NCS Answer Sheet, form no. 4521 (available from the bookstore), and a number 2 pencil. You will also have to bring photo ID to all exams!

Letter grades will be assigned as follows:

less than 55%

Commit to Study Contract
      Students who successfully fulfill the terms of the Commit to Study contract will be allowed to drip their lowest               mid-term exam score, their three lowest homework scores, and their three lowest clicker scores.

Contacting Me
The best way is by e-mail, since I don't check my voice mail very often.  Coming to office hours is also good, and any time my door is open, please come in.

Attendance is not mandatory, but is highly encouraged.  If you miss an in-class exercise, then you will receive zero points for it, which will be reflected in your grade.  Class participation is one-fifth of your final course grade, and you can't earn any class participation points if you aren't here!  Each class participation question is worth two points:  you get one point for being here and answering the question, and an additional point for getting the answer right.

Make up Exams:
I will announce exam dates at least 2 weeks in advance of the exam.  If you have a conflicting activity that cannot be rescheduled, you must see me at least 2 days before the exam. If you don't, there will be no opportunity to make it up. You must bring me documentation of your conflicting activity (i.e. if you have jury duty that day, show me the form they sent you.  If you have a brain transplant scheduled, bring me a note from the surgeon).

Algebra is required in this course.  I plan the exams so that you cannot get an A if you get all the math problems wrong.  However, if you get every math problem wrong, but get everything else right, you can still get a B

Calculators are allowed on the exams.  Smart phones, cell phones or other devices with math functions are not allowed.

Cell phone:
Please turn your cell phone to vibrate before class starts.  Cell phones that ring in the middle of class are disrespectful to your fellow students, and to me.  If your cell phone goes off in class and it is a call you must take, please go into the hallway to answer it.

The faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy do not tolerate academic dishonesty. Falsification of data,
copying, unauthorized collaborations, plagiarism,
alteration of graded materials or other actions (as described in,
but not necessarily
limited to the CSUS Policy Manual) will be promptly reported to the Office of Student
Affairs. The offending student will be penalized on the assignment in question.  Serious infractions will result in course
failure and a recommendation for administrative

Students with disabilities:
Please see me before the end of the first week of class.

Chris Taylor :  ctaylor (at)